The American Welding Society has published a number of standards for welding classifications over the years. These standards are based on factors such as welding processes, and welding filler materials and base materials which are then codified and released in their publications as Standard Welding Procedure Specifications. Such standards are continually updated to use better, more durable materials, more efficient welding processes, and give the welder a greater change of success by referring to techniques and supplies that are commonly used at the time and restrict their actions to the most appropriate working methods.
Two of these standards which are associated with welding projects governed by the United States military are NAVSEA and its older predecessor, MIL-STD-278.
Many welders who have been working for a long time will use MIL-STD-278 and NAVSEA interchangeably, however the NAVSEA standard is a newer set of guidelines that has replaced MIL-STD-278. Some confusion can occur when repairs or maintenance are required on an older ship or plane that refers to materials and procedures from MIL-STD-278. However, many of the techniques that welders used at that time and the materials required are obsolete and a welder working today may not realistically be able to follow these old guidelines, as these were phased out in the 1980s.
Some crucial updates from NAVSEA S9074-AQ-GIB-010/248 that are included in the Navy's technical manual contain the following:
- Acceptance standards to review the completed work for compliance
- Procedure requirements to be followed during the duration of the job
- Maintenance of records and other crucial documentation
- Changes in materials to be used as both bases and fillers
- Methods of establishing welding performance qualification
The good news is that the overall procedures and structure of working from both standards are relatively similar, so the changes have more to do with the older materials than anything else. Welders who are only familiar with the older standards may also be required to re-qualify based on the new guidelines. If you are working on a welding project for a military client or someone in the private sector who asks for MIL-STD-278, be sure to confirm whether they want the job done according to NAVSEA or the older specifications.